How to get to Heaven in 10 minutes…

How to Get to Heaven in 10 Minutes
Have you ever really thought about eternity?  This is a big concept to grasp since we can only really visualize our world from what we see in our own lives in the time that we live them.  But imagine the 70 or so years of your life as a little dot on the timeline of eternity.  Now, imagine drawing that dot on a piece of paper.  Now, from that dot draw a line across the page and imagine that line going across the street where you are at now, and past where you can see and out into space.  Well that line of time that we call eternity is going to go on forever, but the little amount of time we spend on earth is only that dot.  So the real question is, where are we going to spend eternity, and what is it that we do on this earth that will determine where we spend eternity?  So this begs the obvious questions about God, heaven, hell, and a lot of philosophical thinking.  Since eternity is a very long time one would have to say that the issue of eternity is an important topic to contemplate.  So let’s ask the obvious question first.  Is there a God?  Well you could put up the argument that there is no God, but what if you are wrong?  Is the determination of where you spend eternity worth taking that kind of chance?

Again, we ask ourselves the question “Is there a God?   Let’s look at a simple example.  Suppose you were walking in the woods one day, and you walk up to a stump in the forest and see a mobile phone lying on the stump.  So how do you suppose the phone got there?  Do you say to yourself that there are all kinds of metals and plastics on the earth, and given enough time these metals and plastics would eventually form in the shapes of transistors, memory chips, buttons and LED screens?  So you conclude that eventually this phone would form itself and appear on this stump.  Most people would think that this assumption would be absurd.  The more likely explanation is that someone had put the phone there.  Now consider the complexity of a human being.  All of the cells, organs, senses, bones, nerves and DNA all coming together to make a person.  Not just a mechanical object , but a person that thinks and feels and loves and cries.  Would something that is so much more complex than a phone just form by itself given enough time?

Well, for arguments’ sake, let’s say that there is a God.  Now we need to think about heaven and determine what the requirements are to get into heaven.  We could say that all we have to do is live a decent life, don’t do anything terrible, and God will certainly let me into heaven because God is a loving being and wouldn’t want any good people to miss out on heaven.  But to be fair, we must also say that God is a just being, and must punish bad people for what they have done.  So, in order to deal with this, we set up a nice points system.  Do some good deeds, get some points.  Do some really good deeds and get a lot of points.  Do some bad things and you lose some points.  So go ahead and live your life and if you get enough points at the end of it, you win the big prize and get into heaven.  But what if you miss the total by one point?  You told one extra little lie that caused you to miss the point total.  Now you spend eternity in hell all because of that one extra lie, or bad thing that you had done.  What if you had a pretty bad life, but turned yourself around so that you started building up points toward the right direction.  Sounds pretty good except what if you get hit by a bus before you catch up on your point total.  Well it seems like the point system has some flaws in it, so what if we try another idea.

Suppose the real ticket to heaven is simply to be able to answer a simple question and you get in.  So imagine that God is standing up at the gates of heaven when you walk up, and he says to you:  “Answer this simple question and you get to spend eternity in paradise, otherwise, you spend eternity in hell.”  And the question is this:  “What does two plus two equal?” Well there were a lot of schools down there on earth and some taught that two plus two equaled four, but some taught that it equaled three, or five, or seven.  Well you happened to have gone to a school that taught that two plus two equals seven.  Your whole life, you believed this and never looked into seeing if it was could have possibly been anything else.  But when you answer, you find out that your answer is wrong.  Nobody ever told you that two plus two equaled four, and now you are doomed.  Similarly, you may want to think that believing in one thing or another will get you into heaven, but what if there is only one way to heaven just as there is one right answer to that simple math question?  What if the question that God asks is something entirely different?  Suppose the question posed by God is something as simple as “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  Well we know that the point system doesn’t work too well, so there must be a better answer.  Now we have to ask another question, and that question is; who makes up the rules to get into heaven?  Well, since we already assumed that there is a God, and he made heaven, and everything else, I don’t think that we can say that we each individually get to make up our own set of rules to get into heaven.  Therefore we’ll let God make up the rules to get into heaven since he created heaven in the first place.

When we think about this, we may now start to think that maybe something makes sense about all of this.  So we decide that whatever God wants me to do to get into heaven, I’ll do it, except that he has never told me what to do.  Suppose God decided that he would tell everybody one time the way to get into heaven, and people could just decide if they wanted to do it or not.  He certainly could tell everyone individually how to get into heaven, but that wouldn’t require any faith on anybody’s part.  Since God is God he can do this any way he wants, so let’s say that he is going to tell everyone about the way to heaven just one time.  Now ask yourself another question, if God came down to earth and told you the way to get to heaven, would you do it?  I think that most people would if they were able to talk to God face to face.  What if he had already done it years ago and some people told you about it, would you still do it?

So now we come to the basic question.  If you were to die today, are you certain that you would go to heaven?  That’s a serious question to ponder, because there is no guarantee that you will see tomorrow.  You could die in a car crash, or suffer from a heart attack, or some angry world leader could drop a nuclear bomb on your hometown.  Think about that timeline that we talked about before that represents eternity; if you don’t wake up tomorrow, where will you be for the rest of eternity?

So now you are standing before God and he asks the question “Why should I let you into my heaven”.  What would you say?  Well, God loves you as much as anyone has ever loved you in your entire life, and he wants you to be with Him in heaven.  He wants to give you this gift of heaven, but you must be willing to accept it.  Think of this gift of heaven as an actual wrapped present that is always with you.  When you go to bed at night, it’s next to your bed.  When you go to work it’s sitting next to you.  It’s with you day and night wherever you go.  You can open this gift any time you want, and when you do, you get to spend eternity in heaven, and if you don’t open this gift, you spend eternity in hell.  So what do you do?  This gift is called grace, and it is God’s everlasting love for you.  Why not open it?

We need to explore this gift more, but first let’s talk about ourselves, and more specifically our basic human nature.  This human nature of ours has a lot to do with selfishness and pride.  We may think that we aren’t such bad people, and we certainly aren’t “sinners”.  But think about this; how many murders do you have to commit to be a murderer?  Well that answer would be one of course.  Then how many sins do you have to commit to be a sinner?  Think about a typical day in your life.  Something wrong that you did, a bad attitude you had towards someone, or the opportunity to do the right thing that you didn’t do.  Suppose you commit just three sins a day.  Multiply that out by a typical lifespan, and you would have committed 70,000 sins in a lifetime.  That makes us all sinners.  Since God created everything, He is the definition of what is good, and in heaven, He cannot allow badness or sin to exist in his heaven.  So how can he let people who have all of this selfishness and sin into His heaven?

Like we said, God loves us, he is merciful, and he doesn’t want to punish us.  But he must punish sin.  Just as a murderer must be punished for committing a murder, we also must be punished for committing the sins that we commit everyday.  Consider that by some odd circumstance you killed someone.  By accident or on purpose, you did it.  You go to trial, and the judge finds you guilty and you are sentenced to death.  Your day comes to be executed and you go to get the lethal injection.  There are many witnesses at the execution including the judge that sentenced you to die.  Just as you are about to be injected with the poison and die, someone walks up and asks the judge if he can take the injection instead of you.  The judge says that this is acceptable, and this total stranger takes the injection and dies.  You walk away free, never to be accused of the murder again.  This seems too good to be true but what if it happened?  And it happened already, 2,000 years ago when Jesus died a horrible painful death nailed to a cross.  He took the guilt of our sins upon himself and God, the final judge, said that this punishment for all of our sins was acceptable.  Jesus’ death on the cross is God’s gift to us.  It is that present that is next to us all day long that we are waiting to unwrap.  If we believe that Jesus died for our sins, God sees us as people whose punishment has been taken care of, and we may enter His heaven.

So you think to yourself that sure Christianity is one way to heaven, but there are a lot of religions out there.  Why can’t they all be acceptable?  If you believe this, then you have to assume that God can’t make up his mind about this heaven thing.  But if we now say that believing in Jesus is the way to heaven, then we can’t say that any old belief will get me into heaven because Jesus said: “The only way to the father is through the Son.”  That means that everything else just won’t work, but why should I believe that Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong?  Well there are lots of books that can talk about this in detail, but let’s look at one example from the Bible.  First of all, Jesus appeared to all of the apostles (the twelve men who followed him closely in His last years) to confirm that he had risen from the dead.  All but one of these apostles died for their faith in Jesus, and most of them could have avoided execution if they simply renounced their belief in Jesus.  I doubt that anyone would die for a belief that they knew was false.

There is a significant amount of other evidence that confirms the evidence in the bible including confirming writings from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Samaritan historian Thallus, and the Jewish Talmud.  In addition there are over 2,000 specific prophecies from the Old Testament written well before Jesus’ time that predicted different aspects of Jesus and His ministry which were all realized with the coming of Jesus.  Jesus performed miracles wherever he went, and there are no first century eyewitnesses or historians who ever denied his miracles.

So let’s get back to this gift that’s been sitting beside of us all of our lives.  How do we go about unwrapping this gift so that we can spend eternity in heaven?  The answer is pretty simple and it is something that is called faith.   One definition of faith would be believing in something that you cannot see.  Believing in an event that took place 2,000 years ago would be an example of faith.  There are a lot of books that discuss the evidence of Jesus’ life and provide solid evidence as to why we should believe Jesus and His claims, and a list of some of these is included at the end of this discussion.  Therefore, you don’t have to think of faith as a blind belief in something.  But if you examine the evidence, you will find that all of the claims of Christianity are true.  Of course you will probably have some doubts in your mind about some of this, but that is where faith comes into play.  Faith is trusting God with the things that you are unsure of knowing that He will reveal the truth to you as you investigate them further.

Now it’s decision time.  Jesus is knocking at your door asking you to receive the gift of heaven.  Are you willing to accept this gift?  All you have to do is believe that Jesus is Lord of your life, ask that he forgive the bad things (sins) that you have done throughout your life, and trust that he will protect you as you experience troubles in the future.  In addition, you need to start living a life that will be pleasing to God.  After all, He just gave you eternal life in heaven; we owe Him a life that honors Him.  No matter what bad things you have done in the past, you are forgiven if you ask for forgiveness.  That seems pretty simple, and it is, but don’t stop now.  Read about Jesus and learn what great plans that He has for your life and for eternity.  Learn how to serve Him so that someday you can stand before Him and heaven, and he will look at you and say “Well done good and faithful servant.”

For further reading:

The Bible:
Try a modern translation such as the New King James (NKJ) version, New International Version (NIV), or the New American Standard (NAS).  The King James Version that you may be familiar with that has the “thee”s and “thou”s was written 400 years ago, and is difficult for a lot of people to read.  Begin by reading the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) and go from there.   You can also look for online bibles such as:
Various Language Bibles:  biblegateway.com
Arabic Bible:  arabicbible.com 

More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.  This is a book for people who are skeptical about Jesus’ claims to being God and His resurrection.  This book discusses why Jesus is different from others who claim to be God, science in relation to Jesus, the reliability of the Bible, and other topics in an easy to read 120 pages.

The New Answers Book (Three Books 1, 2 and 3), by Ken Ham.  Answers common questions concerning creation, evolution, and other issues that often keep from believing that the bible is true.
Also See:  answersingenesis.org

Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.  This book discusses in more detail the trustworthiness of the Bible, historical prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, evidence of the resurrection, and other topics to show the validity of Jesus life and claims.
 
The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel.  The book discusses the reliability of the Gospel record and its details based upon non-Biblical records and other testimony.
 
Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey.  This book answers tough questions about Christianity in relation to current world views of religion.
 
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis.  An intellectual discussion of the basic questions of God and the universe.
 
Without a Doubt, by Kenneth R. Samples.   A discussion of God, Jesus, science, world religions, morality and other topics of interest.

www.gotquestions.org :  A web site that answers a multitude of questions regarding science, creation, the existence of God, and numerous other topics.

Questions?  email questions@heavenin10.com

https://www.facebook.com/heavenin10minutes

Note:
Feel free to translate and share this information as you desire.  Please be accurate with God’s word when sharing information.

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A prayer for those who live alone

I live alone, dear Lord, stay by my side,
In all my daily needs be my guide.
Grant me good health, for that I pray,
To carry on my work from day to day.
Keep pure my mind, my thoughts, my every deed,
Let me be kind and unselfish in my neighbor’s need.
Spare me from fire, from flood and
Malicious tongues,
From thieves, from fear, and evil ones.
If sickness or an accident befall,
Then humbly, Lord, I pray, hear my call.
And when I’m feeling low, or in despair,
Lift up my heart, and help me in my prayer.
I live alone, dear Lord, yet have no fear,
Because I feel Your presence ever near. Amen.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune. (Psalm 90: 14-15)

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Life….

LIFE….
LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.
Psalm 39:4 , NLT

Life is short no matter how long we live. If there is something important we want to do, we must not put it off for a better day.

Ask yourself, “If I had only six months to live, what would I do?” Tell someone that you love him or her? Deal with an undisciplined area in your life? Tell someone about Jesus? Because life is short, don’t neglect what is truly important.

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a date with the other woman…..

A DATE WITH THE OTHER WOMAN

After 21 years of marriage, I discovered a new way of keeping alive the spark of love. A little while ago I started to go out with another woman. It was really my wife’s idea.

“I know you love her,” she said one day, taking me by surprise.

“But I love YOU!” I protested.

“I know, but you also love her.”

The other woman my wife wanted me to visit was my mother, who has been a widow for 19 years. The demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night, I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.

“What’s wrong, are you well,” she asked? My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news.

“I thought it would be pleasant to pass some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.”

She thought about it for a moment, then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday, after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the doorway with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s.

“I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed,” she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady.

After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Halfway through the entree, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips.

“It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said.

“Then it’s time you relaxed and let me return the favor,” I responded.

During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary – just catching up on recent events of each other’s lives. We talked so much that we missed the movie.

As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed and kissed her good night.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home.

“Very nice. Much nicer than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her.

Sometime later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I was almost sure that I couldn’t be there, but, never-the-less, I paid for two plates –one for you and the other for you wife. You will never know what that night meant to me. I love you.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying, “I LOVE YOU” in time, and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than God and your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot always be put off to “some other time.”

— Author Unknown

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a long or a short ride what will it be?

THE RIDE

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a life
for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn’t realize was that it was also a
ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving
confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and
told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me,
ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I
picked up late one August night.

I responded to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town.
I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just
had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some
factory in the industrial part of town. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the
building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.

Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait
a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who
depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation
smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be
someone who needed my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the
door and knocked.

“Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something
being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small
woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a
pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one
had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There
were no clocks on the walls, no knick-knacks or utensils on the counters. In
the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said.

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took
my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my
kindness.

“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I
would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive
through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice”.

I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have
very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

“What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the
building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through
the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were
newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had
once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d
ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit
staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m
tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building,
like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were
solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been
expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door.
The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me
tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a
door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in
thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman
had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What
if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a
quick review, I don’t think that I have done very many more important things
in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But
great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others
may consider small ones.

— Author Unknown

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the first Adam and the last Adam

One failed and brought death on all His descendants. The other was faithful, bringing life through His death and resurrection.

And if we take the time to read Scripture more carefully, we see how deeply the parallels run. The ways in which Jesus is similar to, and yet better than Adam, are astonishing:

The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden. The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man. The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped. The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree. The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face.

The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.”

We celebrate this last event today—Jesus’ final meal with His Disciples, and His new command that we “love one another.” In giving Christians this meal, He sealed His role as Adam’s replacement.

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just a quick thought….on types of people

Somebody has well said that there are only two kinds of people in the world: There are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord,” and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning.”

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full or empty ??

FULL OR EMPTY?
By Heather Spears Kallus

There are many people in our world.  Yes, and people can be so very different in their views, temperaments, attitudes, and personalities.  Some of us can be easy-going, flexible, and upbeat, while others can be cantankerous, argumentative, and uncooperative.  Let me interrupt for just a second – isn’t that a fun word?  Cantankerous.  I haven’t used it for a long, long time, but it’s a word full of letters and it basically just means crabby and cranky.  Cantankerous.  CANTANKEROUS!  Anyway, as a word-lover, I thank you for allowing me to digress for a moment.

When we can, we prefer to hang out with people who are positive and uplifting, right?  If given the opportunity, most of us would choose to surround ourselves with people who inspire, motivate, and encourage us.  If given a choice, we’d pick a friend who views the glass as half-full instead of half-empty, right?  We wouldn’t want to purposely seek out the irritable grumps in our world, would we?

Well, I just got a cute little story from Mikey that compares twins.  So timely and I love it!

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks.  If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold.  If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up.

Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom & gloom pessimist.  Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday, their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game.

The optimist’s room, he loaded with horse manure.

That night, the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.

“Why are you crying?” the father asked.

“Because my friends will be jealous, and I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff.  I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken,” answered the pessimistic twin.

Passing the optimistic twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure.

“What are you so happy about?” he asked.

To which his optimistic twin son replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!  Woo-hoo!”

Oh, that story made me smile!  A perfect example of half-full vs. half-empty!

So, I’ve seen a version of the following question in many places over the years and I wanted to share it with you.  I was inspired by it so much so that I wrote a poem about it today.  Here’s the question:  “What if we woke up this morning and ONLY had the things and people in our lives that we had thanked God for yesterday?”  Hmmmm…would we only have the traffic light that finally turned green, the winning scratch-off ticket, or the passing grade on that final exam?  Would we have anyone to share our joy with?

Here’s my poem:

FULL OR EMPTY?

How full or empty would our world be,

If we had only things we’d thanked God for on bended knee?

Would we have a home, some food, or money?

How ’bout a job, some clothes, and our Honey?

Could we see with our eyes and speak with our lips?

Could we walk with our legs and dance with our hips?

Would our children be there to tuck in at night?

Would the sun wake us up with new morning light?

How full or empty would our world be,

If we had only things we’d thanked God for on bended knee?

Would we have friends and fam to call on the phone?

How ’bout some ice cream on a cone?

Could we turn on the A/C or heater at whim?

Could we hit the gym or sing a hymn?

Would our parents be there to spend some time?

Would we find that lucky penny, dollar, or dime?

Would there be hugs, kisses, and love?

What about chances to thank God above?

Would there be stars in the sky for wishes?

How ’bout mouths to feed and all those dishes?

I ask again, to reflect and think,

Ponder on this the next time you blink.

How full or empty would your world be,

If you had only things you’d thanked God for on bended knee?

Full or empty?  We choose.

Half-full or half-empty?  We still choose.  Let’s choose to look for the pony!  I’m in!  Are you?

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Ash Wednesday

ASH WEDNESDAY

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of Lent.

Lent comes from the Old English term for “lengthen.”  As Easter approaches the amount of daylight grows longer.

 

More than a thousand years ago followers of Jesus began to set aside the 40 days before Easter as a kind of annual spiritual journey – an opportunity to reconnect with God in specific ways.  This year Easter Sunday is April 16.  If you do the math you’ll discover that there are actually 46 days between February 18 and April 5.

 

The six “extra” days represent the six Sundays during Lent.  Some Christians treat these Sundays as “little Easters” – they are like rest stops on the journey in which some folks choose step back, for 24 hours, from their Lenten commitments.

 

By Lenten commitment, do we mean giving something up?

Yes, a number of people choose to give up something for Lent.  Think of taking something out of your backpack before beginning a 40-day hike.  “I choose not to carry this around with me for the next six weeks.”  Think of it as an expression of hope.

During the Middle Ages it was common for Christians to give up meat, fish, eggs, and butter throughout Lent.

 

Nowadays it’s more typical for Westerners to surrender one of those things that can approach the level of addiction – perhaps caffeine, soda, coffee, chocolate, television, social media, or computer games.  It doesn’t take much for us to realize that these are probably things we could and should surrender for far longer than 40 days.

 

Can Lent also be a time to “take on” a new habit or practice?

Absolutely.  The balance, in fact, is quite healthy.  Just as we leave something behind on this spiritual journey, we also pick up a new perspective or behavior or commitment.  This is also an expression of hope.

You might consider an accelerated pattern of personal prayer or Bible reading.  Or writing a daily thank-you note to 40 different people.   Or pursuing a specific strategy to serve the poor.  Or a daily break in which you stop and enjoy a few minutes of intentional stillness.

 

This year there’s another option.

Write a message on a Post-It note.  With one word or a few words or even a short paragraph, address this question:  Where do you hope to see God at work between now and Easter?

Where do you hope to see God at work in your department?  In your family?  In our nation?  Or in your own heart?

 

You might put a Post-It note on a cross of your own, or in a place where you’re likely to see it.

 

Casting our hopes on God is itself an expression of hope.

And the cross just so happens to be the place where our deepest hopes become reality.

 

— Authored by Glenn McDonald

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Just a thought…

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on the door forever.

amen…

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